The Epoch Barcode Battler was a 1991 toy release that captured the attention of young boys and had them clipping UPCs wherever they could - much to the dismay of parents.
Sometimes, someone in the electronic gaming world just has a crazy idea, and the Epoch Barcode Battler is pretty much that in a nutshell. Released in 1991 and retailing for around $15, the Battler was a huge success in Japan, and the idea was that it could "read" barcodes off of your favorite cereal, bread, or potato chip packaging and convert them into heroes, items, or weapons within the Battler itself. In theory, a great and powerful warrior-mage was hiding in the box of Corn Flakes your mother picked up, and all you needed was a pair of scissors and a moment alone to get your epic game on.
Once you had a barcode in hard - using either cards that came with the device or those that you'd scrounged up yourself, you could pass it through the Battler's card reader and then fight it out with other codes stored in the system.
This is where problems started cropping up. Not only was the device unwieldy, but it took 4 AA batteries that would then drain at a frightful rate, and in a world of non-recharagables, this was a serious monetary commitment. What's more, many barcodes simply didn't work in the system and would return an error when tried. In addition, not all packaging was the same thickness or stiffness, making using codes you found lying around prohibitively difficult.
This review gives a good idea of some of the issues with the Battler:
While the device simply didn't live up to the hype there are still a few kicking around for sale - at Amazon UK, for example, and many young men and women have fond memories of the soul-sucking device even now.
There is talk of a similar game, called Warcode, that is apparently going to be developed for the iPhone 4 and 3GS that will make use of cameras to read barcodes and translate them into digital heroes.
Sounds to us like they've raised the bar.
Source: Touch Arcade